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May 25, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy & The X-Men – Black Vortex Omega


In this comic, Starlord Proposed to Kitty Pryde and she accepted.

I wanted that out of the way first. It is the big money shot of the comic. Marvel seems to think that it is kind of a big deal, and I hope to god you don’t mind it being spoiled if you agree with them.

With that out of the way, all but the first 5 pages of the Guardians of the Galaxy & The X-Men: Black Vortex Omega reads like an epilogue instead of the last part of a crossover story arc. If you’re one of the unlucky few that picked this up thinking that it is a standalone or the first in the series, the issue is going to feel thin.

The full story spans 13 chapters that starts with The Black Vortex Alpha and crosses over to key issues of All New X-Men, Guardians of the Galaxy, Legendary Starlord, and a few others (Nova, Cyclops, Captain Marvel, and Guardians Team Up.)

If you don’t have the time or money to hunt down all of them, the gist is this: Peter and Kitty Pryde stole an artifact called the Black Vortex from a group of mercenaries led by the mysterious “Mister Knife,” who is actually Starlord’s father, J’Son of Spartax. The Black Vortex is said to be a gift from a Celestial capable of imbuing users with cosmic energy.

It gets a little bit muddy after that. Some of the heroes submitted to the Black Vortex and gained cosmic powers (and new costumes?), Thanos’ son Thane also got his own cosmic powers and encased the entire Spartax empire in amber – which plays into Mister Knife’s plan: get the Brood to burrow into the amber, implant eggs into the trapped Spartoi, and wait until they hatch. BAM! A new Brood armada numbering in the billions.

Black Vortex Omega drops you in the middle of the all-or-nothing fight between Mister Knife’s Slaughter Lords and a bunch of cosmic-powered heroes from the Guardians and X-Men. It’s the usual massively multiplayer melee fight between superheroes: action poses, double page spreads, teeth bared. We even have Ronan the Accuser joining in and going berserk on both sides.

None of it matters because Kitty also surrendered into the Black Vortex and got a massive boost in powers so she can now phase through the universe, or realities. I’m not exactly sure about the specifics of her new powers except that she’s now a giant deus ex machina: she saved the day by phasing the amber and the broods away from Spartax, and crushing all of them with her bare hands.

kitty-phasing-the-amber

With their plan bust, the Slaughter Lords run away with Ronan and his crew chasing after them. All of these happened by page 17 of this 32 page comic. What’s left in those remaining pages?

The heroes celebrate, of course. Most of the cosmic-powered ones relinquish the power. There’s a hint that some of them have been changed from within (whether it’s a power up or a personality change hasn’t been revealed yet.) and we get to the celebrations and the Starlord-Kitty proposal part. The End.

That’s about it. The whole Black Vortex event doesn’t feel like one of those big cash-grab crossovers that Marvel and DC like to do on a yearly basis. It feels smaller and more contained, and really feels like a genuine story arc that just so happened to involve the Guardians of the Galaxy and the All New X-Men. That’s not to say that it’s a good read – far from it. It feels flimsy and inconsequential; the threat of the Black Vortex artifact doesn’t hold the same aura of immediacy that the Infinity Gauntlet or Cosmic Egg has and the resolution of the conflict was disingenuous.

The emphasis on Starlord and Kitty’s romance and their upcoming wedding is a sticking point for me. You know this isn’t going to last. Creators in superhero and other comics rarely do this on a permanent basis because it eliminates romantic intrigue as a plot device. Asterix the Gaul will forever be a bachelor. And if the weddings do occur, often they come undone – Hawkeye is divorced from Mockingbird, Storm and Black Panther are permanently separated, as was the Silver Age Hawkman from Hawkwoman: Cyclops and Jean Grey’s marriage ended with her death: Superman and Lois Lane’s wedding has been retroactively expunged from continuity.

Sometimes the marriages occur in alternative universes so as to titillate the reader with a “what if?” – see for example the Golden Age Batman’s wedding to Catwoman, leading to their daughter Helena Wayne. And sometimes they are used as a plot device of themselves to enhance tragedy – the marriage ending in a death: see the marriage of Silver Age Lex Luthor in Action Comics #544 (1983), the death of Animal-Man’s wife and family, and the death of the Elongated Man’s wife in Identity Crisis. Rarely do we see in superhero comics long term marriages as an integrated and permanent part of a character or team (the Fantastic Four).

Finally, I know the All New X-Men series is sort of targeted towards a younger demographic, so I’m giving the script a pass even if I cringe at the scene that has Storm asking Rocket Raccoon to be her date for the wedding.

rocket-and-storm

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